I've thought a lot about ears in my life. For one, I had big, goofy ears as a child (I looked like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals). Then, as a teenager, I started experiencing tinnitus - ringing in the ears.
Any who, some big ears news (see what I did there?) just dropped: scientists think they're potentially close to being able to reverse hearing loss.
Hearing degrades as we age and as we subject ourselves to loud noises (e.g., concerts). The most common cause is damage to tiny hair cells in our inner ear, and the rub is that while these cells can regenerate in birds, fish, and other creatures, they cannot naturally regenerate in humans.
HOWEVER...a new University of Rochester study suggests a fix might be imminent.
Researchers there analyzed mice cells with an overactive growth gene called ERBB2 and found this gene was the key to promoting new hair generation.
"This study tells us how new hair growth activation is happening - a significant advance toward the ultimate goal of generating new cochlear hair cells in mammals," said one of the researchers. "We believe we can use these findings to drive regeneration in adults."
This is a major development first and foremost for folks who are hearing-compromised, but also for everyone else. Who wouldn't want to "tune up" their hearing after years of listening to Bruce Springsteen on full-blast?